Indiana State University Newsroom

Indiana State officers first among Indiana universities to train on life-saving overdose techniques

June 10, 2015

Donna Purviance, a recent graduate of Indiana State University's doctor of nursing practice program, has trained officers from the Vigo County Sheriff's Office and several other Indiana police departments on how to utilize Narcan to help save the lives of those experiencing an overdose. However, Indiana State is the first university in the state to provide this tool to its officers.

"The beauty of the drug is that it only works on an opiate, nothing else," said Purviance.

Since Narcan only reverses symptoms of an opiate overdose, it is safe to administer it to a person if they are or are not on the drug.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and state Sen. Jim Merritt attended the training on the Indiana State University campus in support of the implementation of these procedures.

For the last five years, Zoeller has been co-chair on the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Taskforce and he wants to use Purviance's training as an example for the other 91 counties in Indiana. With 77 percent of those who overdose starting their addiction with doctor prescribed opiates for pain, Zoeller said that prescription drug abuse is a "social problem that has gotten away from us."

Merritt co-authored the Indiana Lifeline Law that provides some forms of legal protection to first responders and those seeking medical assistance for others in need. He said that while the use of Naloxone is not a new medical discovery as it was approved by the FDA in 1975 for narcotic exposed newborns with narcotic-induced respiratory depression, its aid in reversing the effects of an opiate overdose is necessary everywhere.

"Every community has a heroin problem," said Merritt.

The training also provided some information on Senate Bill 406 or "Aaron's Law," which would allow third parties, such as friends or family members of those at risk of overdose, to obtain Narcan themselves. However, Merritt and Purviance both stressed the need for those utilizing Aaron's Law to call 9-1-1 even if the Naloxone does work in reversing the overdose effects, as the reversal could be temporary and the person will need further medical attention.

With help from Jack Jaeger and staff, those in attendance had the opportunity to practice these techniques on high fidelity simulators from the Rural Health Innovation Collaborative's Simulation Center.

Erik Southard, director of the doctor of nursing practice program, is one of the driving forces behind the training's momentum. Southard said the College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services saw the opportunity to bring awareness of Narcan and the ability to utilize it to first responders after Senate Bill 227, the Good Samaritan Bill, was passed.

"We just want to be on the cutting edge here at Indiana State," said Southard. He described the training on campus as "putting a safety net in place," yet it is only the first step in the fight against prescription drug abuse in students. The next steps include insuring parents are a constant presence in their children's lives, early identification of at risk youth and ensuring social support mechanisms are in place for the addicts."We have to get rid of the stigma against addicts," said Merritt "Addiction is a disease, not a character flaw."

Purviance said her research has found that police officers really just want to help.

"It says a lot about us as humans. People know that the right thing to do is to save someone's life regardless of their troubles," she said about the success of the Narcan training and the 200 lives that have been saved in Marion County since the beginning of this year.

Purviance and Southard hope that police from college campuses in Indiana attend a Narcan training to better protect their students from this growing issue. Zoeller also has hopes to increase the number of first responders who can use these tools and techniques by implementing this training in Indiana's police academy programs.

Indiana State University is leading the way in helping students with addiction and taking steps to prevent opiates or "equal opportunity destroyers" as Purviance referred to them, from claiming the lives of more people.




Photo: - Donna Purviance demostrates how to use Narcan during the training. (Rachel Keyes/ISU Photography Services)

Photo: - Attorney General Greg Zoeller, Indiana Senator Jim Merritt, center, and Donna Purviance speak with Indiana State University police officers during the drug overdose training.  

Contact: Erik Southard, director of the doctor of nursing practice program, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services,

Writer, Haley Sluboski, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing,


Story Highlights

Indiana State is the first university campus in the state to train police officers on life-saving overdose techniques. Doctor of nursing practice graduate Donna Purviance provided university police with training on how to administer Narcan.

See Also:

Students talk up Indiana State University to lawmakers at ISU Day at Statehouse

$1 million gift will create endowed professorship of insurance

Rich schedule of events planned for Black History Month at ISU

On Founders Day, donor goal for Give to Blue Day is a nod to ISU history

Indiana State University announces the fall 2019 dean's list

Indiana State University graduates 782 students